When I started writing this issue's editorial, I was on my way home from the meeting, where we planned the content for this issue. The choice of theme felt obvious - psychiatry in times of war. What I also knew then, was that the situation in the world would look completely different when the time came for publication. It had been ten days since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. A column of tanks stood outside Kyiv, cities were bombed, and distress spread in the cities. A huge number of refugees was moving towards neighboring European nations.
Today, three months later, the war, which in Russia must not be called a war, is a horrific reality. The international community stands united with and helps Ukraine to the best of its ability, constantly trying to maintain a balance so that the conflict does not escalate further. The outcome is uncertain, only suffering is guaranteed, and in the end, everyone is a loser.
The need for psychiatric help is affected both during and after major crises. During an ongoing crisis, there is an increase in mental suffering related to anxiety in the population and already vulnerable patients can deteriorate to an even greater degree. Interestingly however, it has also been described that the need for psychiatric hospital care during wartime paradoxically decreases.
PTSD is perhaps the condition that is most commonly associated with war, both in the civilian population and among the military. Several colleagues have been willing to write about post-traumatic stress, both from a historical perspective and based on today's change in diagnostics. The treatment of this condition has also changed a lot over time. This issue offers several in-depth articles on this very current topic.
We never know when a crisis, whether war or another catastrophe, will occur. We only know that from time to time there arises a sudden great need for emergency psychiatric assistance and the coordination of these. To meet such a need, there exists a comprehensive organization, both in civil society and in the military. You can read about this in an article written by a colleague who works in the military.
What role do psychiatrists play in war zones? We have talked to representatives from "Medecins sans Frontieres", who told us more about this.
Experiences of war are found of course in culture - in film, literature and music. Indeed, there are many films that describe the impact of war on mental suffering. We make some interesting reflections in our cultural section.
As it turns out that there are many associations between psychiatry, major conflicts and war and I present to you yet another issue of The Nordic Psychiatrist filled with a lot of interesting material on the topic. As always, you will find a summary of the latest issue of the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry and other interesting insights into Nordic and Baltic psychiatry.
With this, I wish you a peaceful and relaxing summer. Please contact me with your feedback and suggestions for future material in our journal. □